Strength in Separation
How to make it happen.
Sometimes life doesn’t go as we planned. Even with the best of intentions.
Separation means loss. And it’s not just loss of a relationship. For many, it’s the loss of a lot of time in the post-separation period – time spent working out how to deal with the loss and survive in their new reality rather than living a happy and fulfilled life.
The frightening thing is, the average time from the point of separation to feeling good again is 3 years!
That’s a lot of life to lose unravelling, questioning and ‘getting over’ a past relationship. Being separated, you’ll know there are many feelings you experience. In the initial stages, they vary from day to day and even hour to hour…
At times you will have felt disbelief, even shock. Then overwhelming feelings of sadness through to anger. Anger that absolutely everything changed. Anger that the person you chose to share your life with and the bond that was once created has been broken and the trust is gone. And then, suddenly, guilt can kick in.
You have days where you’re tired & overwhelmed. The number of decisions to be made is enormous and the pressure of untangling & negotiating finances, assets, children and friendships can actually cause physical pain and illness.
With your primary relationship breaking down you experience further hurt as your family may falter in their efforts to support you or, after supporting you well initially, they can end up holding you back.
In many cases you’ll also experience the hurt of apparently good friends being more worried about awkwardness and the effect of your separation on them, than focussing on you, when you need it the most.
- Looking to remove the constant feeling of stress and tension.
- Seeking an amicable future relationship with your
ex-partner . Or, at the very least, looking to get your friendship group back on track and move on with your life.
- Looking to find the strength to get through the settlement and achieve a good outcome at the end of it.
- Wanting to feel passionate & energised about life again.
- Seeking to be happy, to be loved and to have enough within you to love others.
The longer it takes to settle, the more the financial and emotional costs of the separation grow.
We’re relatively sure you’ll want to gain strength and happiness as quickly as possible so it pays to know the…
5 Keys to Moving Through Separation Well
To move forward you need to 1st know where you are now and 2nd know where you want to get to.
So let’s look at the post separation stages – the stages before you get ‘above the line’ where you can once again feel happy and solid when thinking about your future.
The lowest stage is not coping at all… this feels awful as you’re consumed by the magnitude of your situation and you feel like you are at your worst, for the majority of the time. At this level you’re actually not able to function as you should. You and those around you may label your state as “depressed”.
In the next phase, you’re avoiding life – you’re functioning but you know you’re hiding too. You avoid decisions & confrontation wherever possible.
The events of the past have literally knocked you down and you’re not ready to do anything about it, other than mechanically going through the bare minimum motions to survive.
At the next level you’re starting to face life again and when you do there are sporadic waves of pain, hurt and anger. You feel like sharing the pain with those who’ve caused it. The overpowering feeling of lashing out leads you to believe that an email, a phone call, a face to face encounter or a decision will get you feeling better but it’s a mirage and the pain remains.
If you’re at the next level you’re progressing… there’s no longer the urge to share the pain but you’re still feeling stuck. You’re literally treading water. It feels better than the levels below but, it’s still not a good place to be. This level can be a challenge to get out of… even those who quickly move through the lower levels can get caught here for quite some time.
There may be periods where you move up to feeling frustrated with yourself, regretting the time you’ve allowed yourself to stay at those lower levels. Although this can seem less enjoyable than treading water it’s actually a great place to be. Once frustration kicks in you have a chance to break out of the lower levels…. You’re almost out of the cycle.
The challenge is then crossing the line. (More on that in a minute.)
Once you’ve crossed it you’re finally moving forward in your new life. There’s a feeling of vitality & the ability to look forward.
Hurdles may still appear but the energy and determination available to move past them is much higher.
Then, if you keep going you can reach the feeling of flying… where your ‘post separation’ life is seen as being far better than it was during your pre-separation life.
There’s a big difference between being above the line and below the line. Knowing where you are now and where you’d like to be is essential.
So take a few moments to notice:
What level are you at now?
What does it feel like to not be where you would like to be?
What level would you like to be at?
How would you feel if you were at that level? How would it be different?
The main challenge for most is in crossing the line AND staying there!
You see, your thinking up to this point got you your old relationship and it got you to the level you’re at now.
But to move forward, you need to go into new territory, and that requires a new level of thinking & new mindset tools. Without it, instead of crossing the line you end up hitting it and bouncing back.
You tread water for a while… gradually frustration at being in the same position starts to creep in. The feeling of frustration starts to build, but old thinking stops you from crossing the line so then the frustration builds more… eventually your pain threshold is reached resulting in regression to avoiding life – that feeling of shutting down all together seems safer, or to the level above, that of sharing the pain you’ve experienced with those that now surround you..
It literally becomes a cycle. And a costly one at that.
When you’re below the line there’s always an emotional and a financial cost to you.
The emotional costs take their toll on you and those around you. The financial costs include the obvious such as solicitor & mediation fees. And the less obvious opportunity costs that occur when you are not on top of your game in business, at work, in investments and in new social situations.
And the longer you stay below the line the more those costs mount.
Above the line your happiness increases and your finances head in the right direction too – it’s the place everyone wants to get to.
But, most will find themselves in a negative cycle for some time before being able to break out.
They have a relationship with their ex (amicable or not) and then they have other relationships with friends and family. In most cases there’s a merging of those relationships as well… even if the ex is no longer in the picture, friends and family have an opinion of them.
Without new tools our thinking level cannot change. We then become chained to people (our ex-partner included) with our existing patterns. This is fine if our patterns see us living above the line! If not, it’s a vicious cycle where the ex-partner can continue to affect your life – without your conscious consent. This can have dramatic and often negative consequences.
You can hope and pray that THEY change. But, if it didn’t happen the way you wanted while you were together, it’s unlikely to happen now.
The other option is for you to take control and actively cut the tie yourself. You can take on new strategies that put YOU in charge.
By doing so you can actually get yourself to the position where your ex-partner no longer has an affect on the way you think and feel – unless you decide to allow it to happen.
You can metaphorically create distance between you and your ex-partner and you suddenly have the power to determine when you choose to allow them to affect you and when they don’t.
With new tools you can even learn to protect yourself from the emotional hand grenades they may occasionally throw at you.
These skills are life changing. You gain them to move on from your relationship but they can be applied across the whole of your life. That’s why some people surprise those around them post-separation – the tools they access to get themselves above the line become the same ones that suddenly give them the strength and know how to achieve their goals.
And, if children are involved, the impact is even more profound. The mindset shifts have a positive impact on parenting style with the knowledge being passed on to the children for them to use too.
The time required to move up and go above the line can vary dramatically.
With no new input, it usually occurs over a longer period. It literally comes down to trial and error… If you come up against the same problem enough times you’ll eventually learn to move past it at some level. Or, you’ll learn to avoid it – not ideal but better than continuing to bang your head against a wall.
Eventually, most will be able to get above the line. But, the average time taken to do this is 3 years (assuming a speedy settlement). That’s a lot of life to invest in the hit and miss ‘organic’ approach.
The most efficient method to move forward with ease is to get access to new ways of thinking. Since your current level of thinking got you to where you are, a new level of thinking will move you to the next level in your life. More happiness, more fulfilment, more love, more joy.
For those who are not coping at all, the first port of call may need to be a psychologist. It may not feel like a great place to start but if necessary, own it so you can get moving. Those who end up needing the service do so as they have avoided acknowledging the initial and ongoing signs of a downward spiral. Reversing that pattern is a critical turning point.
If you’re in that phase but don’t think a psychologist is warranted then a counsellor may be the one to assist you with a specialist relationship counsellor being better than a general one. The key in seeking the services of a counsellor is to get clear on what you want to get out of the experience. We all know someone who’s seen the same counsellor for months & months and even years… that’s NOT a good sign (no matter how much the person recommending their services raves about them!)
If you’re seeking outside assistance be sure to look for someone who can help you to feel great in less time – not someone who will elongate the process by encouraging you to spend more time in the past than they do in giving you tools to create a bright future.
If you’ve moved to avoiding life, sharing the pain and above it’s worth considering the newer methods of shifting your mindset. While traditional approaches can take years for change to occur, best practices have condensed that into months and even into weeks. There are specialist life & mindset coaches and programmes that can accelerate you through all manner of specific life experiences.
There are very clear, proven strategies that can be implemented to drastically shorten the time taken to cross the line and allow you to achieve more and feel far better than you ever thought possible. Find the one that’s right for you and you will be in a new space before you know it.
Be clear on what you want and your criteria in seeking out assistance.
The more specific and tailored the service is and the more it fits your requirements the faster it will likely be able to assist you. Weigh the value of the offering to the investment required. The value of the offering will vary from person to person and may include – financial costs, opportunity costs (at work and personally) and the time lost in your life through dealing with the emotional toll of going through the process using trial and error.
NOTE: If you are someone who has been through separation before and you think you “know” how to get above the line, doing something different this time around is absolutely critical. That may sound counter intuitive but the reality is you’re going through separation again for a reason! If you don’t use this second experience to do and learn something different a third visit to situation is all but guaranteed
Take a moment to reflect…
Where are you now?
How many times would you estimate you have you done the frustration back to avoidance cycle?
What’s the financial cost of being where you are now compared to where you’d like to be?
What’s the emotional cost to you? And to those around you?
Who can recommend ideas on options available to you? Friends, family, lawyers and other professionals.
Just be sure to take advice off someone you trust and someone that has experienced positive change themselves or seen it happen in others.